Playing football `may be hazardous to health`
One in 100 footballers have been hospitalised following on-field injuries, which is the highest as compared to any other sport, a new study has revealed.
A three-year study into 16 sports, including Australian rules, soccer and rugby, revealed that of the 6275 suburban footballers admitted for treatment from 2007 to 2010, 331 suffered a serious or life-threatening injury such as a skull fracture, damage to the brain or abdominal organs, or multiple injuries.
A follow-up study of injured footballers found players required an average of more than four weeks off work to recuperate. A year after being hurt, 10 per cent were still unable to perform the same work duties as they had before their injury.
Other community sports included in the 16-sport study were netball, volleyball, badminton and hockey.
It found that although football injuries are the most costly to society overall, table tennis injuries had the highest individual cost, mainly because the patients tended to be 65 years and older and required hip surgery.
Caroline Finch, director of the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention, described the sports injury rates as “nearing crisis point“.
The number of sports injuries treated in hospital were double that of road traffic injuries, yet many were preventable, she said. However, the time and effort devoted to prevention at an elite sports level was often lacking in amateur leagues.
Erin Cassell, who headed the research, said football injuries were mostly caused by player contact, but for hockey, cricket, baseball and softball players, stick, ball and puck injuries were more common.
“Football is a very tough contact sport, you get person-on-person tackle injuries, but in a sport like hockey, where you introduce a stick, you are essentially carrying a weapon onto the field,` the Age quoted Cassell as saying.
Finch said the extensive media analysis of AFL football injuries gave suburban team sports players false hope of returning quickly.
The research centre is testing a sports injury prevention manual with football leagues in Geelong and Ballarat, and the state government is preparing a plan to reduce sports injuries, due out later this year.
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